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Lady Cats show grit in loss

August 28, 2013
The opening week of the volleyball season presented a challenge to the North Harrison program each year. Off the bat, the Lady Cats got Class 4A New Albany, followed by defending Class 2A state runner-up Providence.

Going for a block, North Harrison's Carlie Burson, left, and Maddie Janes leap to try and slow the kill attempt from New Albany's Kelsey Guess. Photo by Brian Smith
In the Aug. 19 season opener, the Lady Cats proved they could compete with New Albany, leading from the get-go in game one to be the first to 25 points. The Bulldogs, however, won the final three games in Ramsey to take a 19-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-11 victory.

"I felt like we were right with them," North Harrison coach Alexis Speer said. "We killed ourselves with serving and hitting errors. We made mistakes that killed us, including standing and watching too much. I don't think New Albany played their best tonight and they have things to work on like we do, but I feel like we had an opportunity here."

When the first ball went up, Bethany Wiley opened the season with a smashing winner for the Lady Cats. Early in game one, Brittany Rudolph delivered an ace while Carlie Burson's kill gave North Harrison a 6-3 lead.

Throughout the opening game, North Harrison never gave up the lead with the exception of two occasions New Albany would tie the match. The last tie came at 11-all, but it was broken by a kill from Rudolph, followed by an ace by the sophomore.

A Jill Book ace put North Harrison ahead 20-15, then late winners by Kaylin Bright, Wiley and Burson closed game one.

"That first game gave us a lot of confidence," Speer said. "We know we're going to be a tough team this year."

North Harrison snagged game one despite six errors from the service line. The miscues caught up with them in game two when they committed four.

New Albany's 6-foot-1 middle Alexis Lete got rolling in the game, delivering four winning kills and a solo block. The Bulldogs led by as many as four points early, but a Book ace cut the margin to 12-11. Led by kills from Audrey Donastorg, New Albany went on a three-point run to eventually run away with game two.

Carrying momentum over from game two, New Albany raced out to a 7-2 lead in the third. Lete accounted for four of the seven winners.

Showing grit, the Lady Cats fought back when the scoreboard had them trailing 12-6. Wiley fired her team up with solid play, blocking a kill attempt to force New Albany to call a time-out with the lead trimmed to one.

The fight in the Lady Cats was evident when Rudolph's consecutive kills from the middle cut the New Albany lead late to 22-21. On the next ball in play, Burson scooped a pair of digs in the back row, the last leading to a Wiley kill to tie the game.

New Albany, however, took advantage of two North Harrison miscues and a Madison Dibble ace to squeak out the win.

"We had a lot of fight in us today," Speer said. "Jill played phenomenal, and two of our seniors, Bethany and Maddie, played really well tonight. I was really proud. We have three sophomores in our rotation, so we are still a little young."

Game four was played evenly early, but, midway through, New Albany ripped off an eight-point run, which included four Dibble aces.

"Serving errors killed us," Speer added. "We're doing different things — jump serving, putting some spin on the ball — but when there is times we are pushing for points, we need to just put the ball in play."

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